Portrait Salon

Lucy Levene

The Spaghetti Tree

Lucy Levene’s portrait ‘Family Portrait 1, St Francesca Cabrini Italian Church, Bedford, 2013′ (below) was selected for Portrait Salon 2013 and is part of her work entitled ‘The Spaghetti Tree’ about Italian communities in Bedford and Peterborough.

1Family Portrait 1, St Francesca Cabrini Italian Church, Bedford, 2013

‘The Italian communities of Bedford & Peterborough formed in the 1950s as men were recruited from Southern Italy to supplement labour shortages in the local Brick industry. ‘The Spaghetti Tree’ is titled after the Panorama April fools day hoax documentary that aired on the BBC in 1957. At the time Britain was so unfamiliar with Italian culture that many were persuaded that spaghetti did indeed grow on trees. The Bedford & Peterborough communities have thrived over the years, however they have remained separate from the more financially established, older UK Italian communities of London & Scotland. These photos were taken between February 2013 and 2014 at Italian community events in both Bedford & Peterborough.’

2Statue 2, The Sharnbrook Hotel, Bedford, 2013

3Woman dancing, Tara & Vito’s wedding, Bedford, 2013

‘The project was my response to a commission from the 1000 Words Magazine Photography Award. The award was part of a larger initiative that was supported by the EU Cultural Programme. As such, the subject matter was very specific. The photographers involved were invited to make work that would contribute to an archive that explored and documented the migration that occurred in the decades after WWII, from Southern to Northern Europe.’

4Orchids 1, St Francesca Cabrini Italian Church, Bedford, 2013

5Woman with baby, St Francesca Cabrini Italian Church, Bedford, 2013

‘As an outsider to these communities I took up the position of community photographer, attending events and providing portraits as mementos. I was interested in demonstrations of ‘community’ and of ‘family’ being played out in front of the camera. The project deals with some of the problems inherent in taking a documentary approach. The series consists of 48 images, within which the repetition of particular people, themes and motifs aims to draw attention to the means of construction as well as to the passing of time. Caught moments, staged and interrupted portraits as well as interiors are given equal weight, lending the work a disparate, cyclical feel. Beyond the various constructs of what it means to be ‘Italian’, the conventions of portraiture and the Italian ideal of ‘la Bella Figura’, families discompose, revealing their dynamics. Individuals concede, betraying desires, insecurities and nostalgias. Frustrated by the perfect image and its hermetic surface, I took these images at just the wrong moment; looking for a disruption, ‘a crack that lets the light in’. Using flash and its blanket reveal, I attempt some form of objective democracy. Yet, sitting between construction and documentary, as ever this work is highly controlled and constructed.’

6Girls dancing, ICA Valentine’s Dance, Peterborough, 2014

7Portrait 1, Prima Generazione Club, Bedford, 2013

‘Throughout the images, elements of the shoot are visible; the studio backdrop, harsh shadows from the flash and awkward perspectives all indicate my presence. As Federica Chiocchetti states in her essay, There’s Nothing Like Real, Home-grown Spaghetti ‘[The Spaghetti Tree] is a construction of the candid nature of an encounter.’ In subtly foregrounding elements of construction, I hope to encourage the reader to question the truth value of the documentary approach.’

8Portrait, ICA Valentine’s Dance, Peterborough, 2014

9Empty hall 1, St Francesca Cabrini Italian Church, Bedford, 2013

Lucy Levene is a photographer based in London.  She received her MA in Photography from the Royal College of Art in 2004. She is a recipient of the ‘1000 Words Photography Award 2012’ and was selected for the ‘Conscientious Portfolio Prize 2014’ by Jörg Colberg. The Spaghetti Tree will be included in an upcoming group show at Photofusion having been awarded the ‘Select/15 Bursary’.



James O Jenkins

AP Magazine

We’re pleased to have a feature about why we set up Portrait Salon in this month’s Amateur Photographer Magazine. (Click on the images to enlarge and read).

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 13.25.29

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 13.25.39

Carlotta Cardana

The Red Road

Our blog this week explores ‘The Red Road’ by Carlotta Cardana. Her portrait ‘Evereta Thinn’ (below) was selected for Portrait Salon 2014.


Everita Thinn

‘The Red Road started as a collaboration between myself and one of my closest friends, Danielle SeeWalker, who is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and has stayed connected with her culture despite living off the reservation as an adult. Our project began as a dream of two friends that wanted to one day team-up and capture the Native American culture in a positive way. We were tired of seeing the same sad story of how depressed and underprivileged the Native people are. Our idea is to showcase the beauty and strength of these people by way of photographs, stories, and art with a traveling exhibition and a book.’


Juanita Toledo


Sarah Jumping Eagle

‘“Cultural genocide” is a large part of Native American history but is not taught in schools or communicated to the masses. In The Red Road project, we want to illustrate how this culture has had to overcome “cultural genocide” and highlight not only the backlash of their struggles but bring forth the strength, sovereignty, and pride among these people. Native Americans represent only 1% of the United States’ population so it’s not inconceivable to say that it’s a huge struggle to have their voices heard. Combating stereotypes every day and seeing their cultural traditions, practices and languages slowly vanish by various attempts of assimilation is quite devastating, yet there are so many inspiring Native people out there who don’t give up and are working so hard to make a difference for their people.’


Thipiziwin Young


Sage Honga

‘Tribal people today suffer a sort of forced segregation at the very bottom of American society on every indicator; from the 88% unemployment rate to the world’s second lowest life expectancy, Indian reservations stand as third world islands in the biggest economy on Earth. Issues such as drug & alcohol addiction, sexual abuse, poverty, crime and the highest suicide rates in the country are just some of the residual scars left on today’s generations and are often the only things highlighted in mainstream media about this rich and dynamic culture. Jean Houston once said, “If you keep telling the same sad small story, you will keep living the same sad small life”; it’s through The Red Road project that we will stop telling the same sad story and start inspiring positive change.’


Heather Abeita


Kelli Brooke

‘Our dream became a reality in 2013 when we began to develop this project. In 2014 we were commissioned to do a portrait series and article focusing on Native women that was published in several editions of Marie Claire around the world. The feature’s popularity has opened up several more opportunities for us to visit additional tribes and spend intimate time in the communities. We both can’t wait to be back on the road next month!’

Carlotta Cardana is an Italian portrait and documentary photographer based in London. In 2013, she was named “Discovery of the Year” at the Lucie Awards. She was also among the winners of the New York Photo Awards, the PDN Photo Annual, the LensCulture Exposure Awards and the Association of Photographers Open Awards. She was shortlisted for the 2014 Sony World Photography Awards.


James O Jenkins

Rachel Piper

The Challenges of Longevity

So we go from the first 24 hours of life to the twilight years…. these images of elderly people in a retirement home are by Rachel Piper, a young photographer currently studying at University of Middlesex. The judges chose three of her portraits for Portrait Salon 2014.

eileen lying down    bed wheel

Rachel says this about her project:
“What would you do if you had lost the people or person that loved you, the family members
that meant most to you and the ones that have been through everything with you, offering
support and kindness to help you grow. What do you do once they are gone?”

granddad on bed

“It is believed that we only grow up and mature when neither of our parents is alive, so
because of this I have concentrated on the fragility and sensitivity of the elderly. From details
to portraits, I have captured their personalities and individual characteristics, allowing myself
to appreciate their company before it becomes a distant memory.”

three feet chair in sunroom

“I realise that not only can obstacles interfere with us in life, but also as I am getting older my
close family members will not always be around and therefore I need to treasure every
possible moment.”

More of Rachel’s work can be seen on her website


Carole Evans

Jenny Lewis

One Day Young

This year is Portrait Salon’s fifth birthday and in the run up to our events this year we’re going to be blogging about work by photographers who’ve been selected for Portrait Salon in the last four years. We want to highlight some of the background, stories and developments of portraits that have been selected for Portrait Salon, which began in 2011.

We’re starting with Jenny Lewis, whose portrait Liana and Archer (below) was selected for Portrait Salon 2014. Photographer Jenny Lewis has devoted the last five years to photographing Hackney mothers and their newborn babies within 24 hours of their birth. Her aim was to pass on a powerful message that childbirth is a positive experience and nothing to be feared. The project has now been brought together in a new book, One Day Young, which is the latest addition to Hoxton Mini Press’s East London Photo Stories series.

‘It’s really quite simple — I wanted to tell a story about the strength and resilience of women post-childbirth that I feel goes largely unacknowledged in today’s world. To reassure women that childbirth is ok; yes it’s painful but it is a positive pain, one that has purpose and is just part of the journey, a rite of passage into motherhood. To make visible other emotions that are far more powerful: the joy, the overwhelming love and the triumphant victory every new mother feels. In my mind this is the supportive message we should be passing on to future generations rather than paralysing them with fear.’


Liana and Archer

‘Very early on in the project I knew I wanted to concentrate on the first twenty-four hours, when a woman’s body is engulfed by hormones, to capture the unrelenting physicality of the moment, straight from the battlefield. Sweat still glistening on the mothers’ skin, the translucent umbilical cord, freshly severed, and wide-eyed wonder as the women come to terms with the magnitude of what they have achieved and survived.

I leafleted Hackney, the borough where I live to find my recruits. I was clear I did not want to cast people on looks, age, race or class — but to include all who responded. As the series developed over the past five years, the mantra of calm running through the images was impossible to ignore. I find the collection of images quite defiant and beautiful, challenging the expected vision of those first twenty-four hours, a pure celebration of what it means to be a mother.’


Karla and River


Leanh and Lachlan

‘The book contains 40 portraits of mother and child, selected for publication from over 150, which focus on the primitive and hormonal moment of love and protection. As Jenny Lewis says, “My aim was to capture the extraordinary bonding, warmth and strength between mother and infant. In fact the whole range of amazing emotions felt at that time, as the mothering instinct kicks in”.’


Rebecca and Osiris


Kim and Perseus

‘Jenny Lewis has worked as a portrait photographer for the last 15 years. Known internationally for moving with ease between celebrity photography on the covers of magazines such as The Times with the likes of Thandie Newton and Peter Blake to working with the Beastie Boys in New York. Jenny continues to work for her editorial clients but is spending more time on personal work such as the One Day Young series.’


Jenny’s book is available via Hoxton Mini Press – an independent publisher making collectable art books about East London. Jenny is holding a pop-up exhibition at Boxpark on 5th March, details below.

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 12.36.09

To see more of Jenny’s work visit jennylewis.net


James O Jenkins